FedEx Cup Playoff field starts at 120 players Thursday
Paramus, NJ- The PGA has run the FedEx Cup since 2007, to provide a season long champion at the end of the year. Since then, the majors still draw the lions share of attention, but the FedEx Cup has established itself as a critical piece of the golf schedule. This year, 44 events have been played and 125 golfers emerge to take part in the playoffs for the 12th FedEx Cup.
First up on the playoff schedule for 120 members of the field is The Northern Trust at the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. This is the second year the tournament has been played under this name and fourth time hosted at this club in history. Past years have seen Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, and Vijay Singh win this tournament at Ridgewood. Only Singh has gone on to win the FedEx Cup after winning the New York area stage of the Playoffs, in 2008.
Entering this weekend, the FedEx Cup is up for grabs. Dustin Johnson has the lead by only 83 points and does not feel secure with the lead. “I’m going to have to play well to keep the lead the next three weeks.” Johnson has only played 16 events this season, but has been wildly successful in those events. He’s landed ten Top 10 performances, only missed one cut, and scored three victories this season. Nipping at his heels, though, is Justin Thomas. Thomas has played many more events, 19, and has seen his share of success in those. He’s won the same amount as Johnson, three, but has eight Top 10 performances and has missed only two cuts in more times out this season. These two are the headliners in the standings.
Behind the two leaders, space opens up. But a win for any of the remaining golfers here would notably impact the standings. Brooks Koepka sits in third place after a whirlwind year plus. He’s 706 points back of the lead and has two victories this season. Those wins are both majors. He won the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, the first repeat US Open winner since Curtis Strange. He followed by dueling Tiger Woods and Adam Scott to a fantastic finish at the PGA Championship at Bellerive. He only has five Top 10 performances, but his season is probably the most remarkable of the PGA season, considering his severe wrist injury.
Koepka’s ECU tendon was almost completely torn and he was unsure about his future. “It ended some guy’s careers, the injury we had. I was in a soft cast for two and a half months. And I’m watching everyone else play. I remember when I took the cast of, and I went to push down on the shampoo bottle and it hurt to do that. I was like, ‘Man, I’m in for a long recovery.’ Koepka recovered, and is in position to make a run at a FedEx Cup. Regarding his playoff record, Koepka is aware of his poor record. “I know it’s not very good. I think two years ago, I missed the first two cuts, and then I just haven’t shown up. I don’t know if that’s being tired, a little lazy, not the preparation that you really need to put the emphasis on the FedEx Cup that I should have.”
Close behind him are Justin Rose and Bubba Watson. Rose matched his career high with two victories this season, and Watson is tied for the season high with three wins.
In additon to the FedEx Cup, the tournament features some notable stories for the sport at large. Leading the storylines is the renaissance of Tiger Woods. With his return to the spotlight this year, golf has seen an increased share of the sporting attention. Rightly so. Tiger is the best golfer of this age and possibly the best in the sport’s history. Woods is placed 20th in the FedEx Cup, and after his outstanding performance two weeks ago at the PGA Championship, his future looks bright again. His group will be a must watch for the entire weekend.
Other big names playing include Open Champion Francesco Molinari, Phil Michelson, Patrick Reed, and Jordan Spieth. The playoffs begin with an excellent field in Paramus. Play begins on Thursday morning at 7:10 AM.